Thanks for logging on to S02E04 Recap Part 2.0
if you haven’t just read S02E04 Recap Part 1.0, click here.
This episode’s first scene to really cross the threshold into fantasy takes place in Elliot’s fairy tale-like bedroom. Listen to the children’s music, notice the demonic face-monsters at the window and the green decor; this room represents Elliot’s mind. Just as the forest represents our inner selves in folk-tales.
In this room, Mr Robot challenges Elliot to a winner-takes-all game of chess.
The winning alter ego taking control of the other. The loser… dying.
The chess game will be Elliot Alderson’s Red Pill moment. “You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
But instead of wise, mentor Morpheus offering the chance to wake up or to stay asleep, it’s Mr Robot. Trickster God. Smeagol. Mr Hyde. The Devil offering release in the form of death!
Since the director skips over every exposition scene, we’ll do the same here in S02E04 Recap Part 2.0… Elliot refuses to let Krista speak to Mr Robot and Whiterose reveals her deeper involvement with Phillip Price while Joanna tries to shake down Scott Knowles for Tyrell’s severance pay.
We jump to Darlene meeting Cisco, her Dark Army affiliated ex-boyfriend in a bar. If you weren’t already sold that we’d crossed the magic portal into Wonderland, the bar was called The Looking Glass. After gettin’ jiggy with it in the restroom, one pivotal piece of info is dropped as the government’s illegal surveillance program, Operation Berenstain is name-checked for the first time. The Feds are coming! The Feds are coming!
The only side character given some real dialogue to get their teeth into is Leon who basically tells us we’ve all gotta start thinking more deeply about Mr Robot and life! His spiritual monologue asking Elliot if he “really wants to be here, in a cosmic way” (i.e. alive or dead) is a fresh riff on “To be or not to be, that is the question”.
Last week’s Adderall sequence questioned reality in the “living in a hologram/program” made from zeroes and ones and video glitches kinda way. Here, Mr Robot approaches the same question in a more traditional existential way. If you think that this is a show only about hacking, remember The Matrix was half science, half Eastern Philosophy. There’s more than one way to find the meaning of life.
This eternal philosophical question appears throughout thousands of years of literature and is often accompanied by a similar answer to the one Leon proffers: ”Existence could be beautiful or it could be ugly, but that’s on you…” Or, in the words of Holy Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, (Russell Crowe’s buddy in Gladiator)
“The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.”
And then, in that half asleep, half awake torpor, with a lullaby version of Green Day’s Basket Case in the background, Elliot begins to dream and the director let’s rip visually and emotively… which makes S02E04 recap Part 2.0 happy! Let the wild rumpus begin!
In yet another beautiful fantasy montage, when his guard is down, we see Elliot’s heart’s desire – a relationship with Angela, Darlene happily engaged, playing Uncle to the Wellick baby and a doorstep reconciliation with fan-favourite Bill Harper…
In short, Elliot wants to be normal. But his Thanksgiving dinner fantasy which features those he calls “friends and family” is half full of peeps he barely knows, aren’t real or adversaries. It also, tellingly, takes place on the streets of New York in view of a falling E Corp tower because he has no safe space, no familiar place he can call home.
After three rounds of chess impossibly all ending in stalemate, a dream sequence so good and potentially giving away Mr Robot’s final twist that it deserves a post of its own, which you can find here.
Heading into the final straight… in a phone convo, Darlene asks Elliot if he wants her to take Mr Robot. Elliot says no but is later convinced (in a great scene in which Ray convinces him that hearing voices might mean he’s as special as Moses or Jesus) to do Ray’s I.T. job.
But as Elliot sat at a computer for the first time in months, and in a cliffhanger that had me exclaiming “No! Elliot; not from the place where you live” he goes and hacks the FBI in an attempt to save his sister from The Feds and their new enemy; The Dark Army.
What’s going to happen next – could Darlene take Mr Robot off Elliot’s hands?
And more importantly, “are you ready to fight for your existence?”
Thanks for reading and sharing MR ROBOT S02E04 Recap Part 2.0
To read about Chess Club and my craziest theory yet, click here!